New night-sights for Indian soldiers on the Line of Control or in the Kashmir Valley will be a big boost. And that is just what the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Rajnath Singh, the defence minister, is likely to consider when it meets later this month.
On the agenda is an order for about 21,000 night-sights for assault rifles. The cost - Rs 1600 crores. Night-sights are particularly important for the infantry; soldiers having had to face major attacks in the early hours of the morning on various occasions, including BAT attacks on posts on the LoC by groups comprising terrorists and Pakistan Army commandos.
New night-sights would naturally be a major help, particularly because Indian Army soldiers use a variety of assault rifles, including the Russian Kalashnikov family. In fact, India will manufacture close to a million AK-203 assault rifles in India for not just the Army, but other forces as well in the coming years. Other assault rifles used in smaller quantities, particularly by the special forces, are the Israeli Tavor and the American M4.
The DAC, which includes the three service chiefs and also, the head of the DRDO and the Defence Secretary, will look at several big-budget issues including the manufacture in India through strategic partnership (several foreign manufacturers are in the running) of 111 naval utility helicopters, 10 additional P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft and 14 twin-engine heavy choppers for the Coast Guard. All this works out to deals amounting to about Rs 50,000 crore. The P-8I case has been placed before the DAC on several occasions earlier and it remains to be seen whether it finally goes through this time.
But the plan to acquire five regiments of the Self-Propelled Air Defence Gun Missile System will have to wait for another sitting.